Criminal behaviour carried out by a juvenile. Young males make up the bulk of the delinquent population (about 80percnt in the U.S.) in all countries in which the behaviour is reported. Theories regarding delinquency's causes focus on the social and economic characteristics of the offender's family, the values communicated by the parents, and the nature of youth and criminal subcultures, including gangs. In general, both “push” and “pull” factors are involved. Most delinquents apparently do not continue criminal behaviour into their adult lives but rather adjust to societal standards. The most common punishment for delinquent offenders is probation, whereby the delinquent is given a suspended sentence and in return must live by a prescribed set of rules under the supervision of a probation officer. Seealso criminology; penology.
Learn more about delinquency with a free trial on Britannica.com.